We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. You do so with passion. Listen, the critic only wins if you quit. Winston Churchill, during World War II, spoke at the school he once attended. Tradition records his entire speech as just 17 words. Young men, never give up, never give up, never give up, never, never, never, never, never, never. Historians point out the words were slightly different and the speech notably longer, but it's still good advice. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out we must display that same kind of resilience. Well, we're in the book of Nehemiah. We're looking at this book of rebuilding the wall.
Nehemiah was called by God to go rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And when you get down to it, everyone is either building the wall or in a way we're tearing down the wall. So I close with a series of questions last time. Are you a participator or are you a spectator? Are you a servant or are you a slacker? Are you a worker or are you a shirker? Let me put it another way. Are you a wall builder or are you a wall breaker? Are you a faith builder or are you a faith breaker?
See, it really comes down to one of the two. Some are doing the work of God. Others are standing on the sidelines and critiquing those that are doing the work of God. So let's see what happened now in Nehemiah chapter four. And I'm gonna read verses one to three.
By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Sanballat was very angry when he learned we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samaritan army officers, what does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they're doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by offering just a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap and charred ones at that? Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, will that stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked over the top of it.
So let's see how they handled it. Nehemiah prayed about the criticism and he persisted in the rebuilding of the wall. What I love about Nehemiah is he never stopped building the wall. Ever.
Not even a coffee break. He just kept building and building. Look at Nehemiah 4 verse 4. Then I prayed, hear us, O our God. We're being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land. Do not ignore their guilt. Don't blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger in front of the builders.
And at last the wall was completed to half its height around the city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm. So what do you do when you're critiqued? What do you do when you're attacked? You take it to the Lord in prayer. Yes Nehemiah was praying but he was also practical. Look at verse 9 of chapter 4. We prayed to our God and we guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. See in Nehemiah among other things we see how the practical and the spiritual go hand in hand. We learn in Nehemiah how to plan our work and then how to work our plan.
It's very important because sometimes people in the name of spirituality are not spiritual at all. Let me illustrate. Let's say you don't have a job. And I don't have a job.
And I'm just praying the Lord will give me a job. What did you do yesterday? I just stayed at home and prayed in my La-Z-Boy.
And you're a La-Z-Boy yeah. I slept a little too I have to admit. But I prayed. I prayed.
Okay what did you do the day before that? I laid in my La-Z-Boy and I prayed. Prayed for a job. Lord send a job.
Yeah you know what? Why don't you get off your big fat La-Z-Boy and fill out a resume and submit it to as many places as possible and pray over everyone. See there's a place for the spiritual and there's a place for the practical.
And we miss that sometimes. There's a good illustration of David and Goliath. David was on his errand for his dad delivering food to his brothers. Effectively a pizza delivery. Because he took bread and cheese to his brothers. What is bread and cheese? I call that pizza.
Okay. And so he's taken pizza to his bros. And he hears this massive hulk of a man. Nine feet six inches of solid muscle covered in body armor. Bellowing from the valley of Elah for someone to come fight him. He's choosing an entire nation off. His name is Goliath. He says, hey send your champion. Let him fight me. If I win you guys serve us.
If I lose we'll serve you. No one would go fight Goliath. David's looking at him thinking, oh man I've taken out beasts as big as him before.
Give me my sling and my rocks. And I love how he walked out there and he looked at Goliath and he said this, the battle is the Lord's and he'll give you into my hand. That's good. Very spiritual. The battle is the Lord's. And then he prayed for one hour. Closed his eyes. No no he didn't know. He prayed, yeah the battle is the Lord's.
Now I'm going to kill you. And so he put the stone in the sling and started swinging it around. And it hit the giant on the forehead. Goliath collapses to the ground. David runs over. Pulls out Goliath's massive sword. Cuts his head off. Probably had to saw it off. It was so bad. I'm just being honest.
Ok. Holds up the severed massive head of the giant Goliath. And all the Philistines freak out. That was spiritual.
See that's the boat. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating decapitation or violence of any kind.
I'm just simply saying. He prayed and he took action. Ok. And the people on the wall. They prayed but they were practical as well. Verse 13. We had armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed area.
I stationed the people to stand guard by their families armed with swords and spears and bows. Wait. Shouldn't they trust the Lord? Yeah. Trust the Lord.
And protect yourself. Here's another example of the practical and the spiritual. I love this story because it's the miracle working Elijah.
I mean this guy had the gift to call fire down from heaven. An excellent person to invite over to your barbecue. Imagine. You know I need a little more fire.
Elijah is like no problem. Boom. There it is. That's good. Well done good and faithful servant.
Is that how you like it? So here's Elijah. He has the big standoff with the prophets of Baal and Mount Carmel. And you've heard of the rumble in the jungle.
You've heard of the thriller in Manila. This was the battle of the gods. And Elijah won. And fire came from heaven. And right after that Queen Jezebel a wicked woman said that guy is a dead man walking. She effectively put a contract out in his life and Elijah ran for cover. He hid in a cave.
He was depressed and despondent. In fact he even said to God I would just like to die right now. And an angel of the Lord appears to him. And what does the angel of the Lord do? The angel of the Lord says you need to take a nap.
And then he wakes up and the angel of the Lord gives him food. You know so here's my point. We make everything so spiritual. I'm feeling so depressed and down spiritually. Hey maybe you just need a nap and a sandwich. I don't know. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Maybe you need like a day off.
Maybe you need to take a vacation and recharge your batteries. Even Jesus took his disciples aside for a time so they could go back and do the work he had called them to do. But the spiritual and the practical go hand in hand. You know some people get so tied up in theological pretzels over the teaching of free will and predestination.
What do those terms mean? Well predestination means that God knows everything. God decides everything. And God chooses us before we choose Him.
Predestined. In fact Jesus even said you've not chosen me but I have chosen you and you would go forth and bring forth much fruit. But then there is free will. All of those verses in the Bible that appeal to our will. John 3.16, whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Revelation 22, whosoever will let him come and drink of the water of life freely. Christ Himself saying, come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. So we get confused.
We go wait wait. Do we choose or does God predestine us? And the teaching of Calvinism which is usually called total depravity means that you are so depraved and dead in your sin you don't even have the ability to choose at all. You have to be awakened by the Spirit if you have been chosen by God and you better just hope you have not been predestined to hell. Because they believe, some believe that you are predestined to hell and others are predestined to heaven.
I reject that completely. God has not predestined anyone for hell. Because the Bible says that God has not only that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And some will take it so far as to say, well I don't even want to preach the gospel because I might give false assurance to the non-elect.
Are you serious? You have been commanded by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the gospel. It is all sorted out by God.
I don't worry about it. I like the words of the evangelist D.L. Moody who said, Lord save the elect and then elect some more.
C.H. Spurgeon was once asked if he could reconcile election and free will. He said, I don't even try. I never reconcile friends. Look the truth of the matter is predestination and free will are in the Bible.
Sometimes they are right next to each other. My job is to proclaim the gospel. My job is to call people to Christ.
Our job is to get the message out to as many people as possible. Well how do you know if you are chosen by God? Believe in Jesus Christ and you just confirmed you have been chosen by God.
But God gives you a choice in the matter. So they took those practical steps and they held their course. Nehemiah sets up a system. There is a 24 hour guard in place and if anything happens, if there is any problem, they are to sound a trumpet.
Nehemiah 4.18. Blow a trumpet and if you hear the trumpet go fight. But be reminded our God will fight for us. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a joy to hear when these studies have touched lives. Listen to these comments from one of our listeners. Pastor Greg, I remember the very first time I heard your voice and I knew I would have to listen more.
It was about five years ago and I was driving in my car. A snippet of one of your sermons came on between songs on a Christian station and I've been a fan ever since. I really like your jokes too.
Sometimes corny but always funny. You make me a better Christian and I thank you for that. I need all the encouragement I can get to walk the straight and narrow.
I appreciate you my brother in Christ. If you have a story to share, why not call us and give us all the details. Here's the number 1-866-871-1144. 866-871-1144. Well Pastor Greg is presenting a message in Nehemiah chapter 4 today called Dealing with Criticism.
It's available at Harvest.org. My last point, we need to finish what God has called us to do and we need to do it with passion and persistence. Let me say it again. We need to finish what God has called us to do and we must do so with passion and persistence.
Look at verse 6. The wall was completed up to half its height around the entire city for the people that worked with enthusiasm. Listen to this. The most dangerous part of a work is when it's half done. When it's half done. The halfway point.
They're just thinking oh man we've worked so hard and we still have another half a wall to build. But then again look how much you've accomplished. So you just continue on and you do so with enthusiasm and you do so with passion. Listen the critic only wins if you quit.
The devil's two favorite words are give up. So don't give up. Keep building. Don't give up on your marriage. Don't give up on your family. Don't give up on your life and your spiritual growth. Here's a verse I already quoted.
I want to come back to it in closing. Verse 10 of Nehemiah 4. The people of Judah began to complain the workers are getting tired. There's so much rubble to be removed.
We'll never be able to build the wall by ourselves. Have you ever felt that way? Oh man I'm trying to get my life sorted out but what a mess. All the rubble. All the trash.
Yeah sometimes you've got to move out the old junk to make room for the new. You know I don't know why but I have some kind of weird fixation with converse shoes. You know what I'm talking about. I love them. I wear them all the time. And my wife says you have too many pairs of converse shoes. And she says if you get a new pair you have to get rid of the old pair. But I don't want to get rid of an old pair. I like those old pairs. They're really worn.
No. If you get one new pair you have to get rid of an old pair. Well I don't get rid of any of them and I have a lot of them now.
Even when they're falling apart I just glue them back together and keep wearing them. There's a principle there. You know you want the new and get rid of the old. So you know maybe you've been struggling in your life. You have a struggle with alcohol. It's your downfall.
Every time. So you've said Lord help me and you've been able to be free from it for a month or six months and it's great. Okay now take the practical steps. You have any booze left in your house. Hey man pour it down the toilet.
That's a practical step isn't it. Or maybe you have a problem with pornography. And you keep going back to your computer and looking at porn. Or you look at it on your phone and and you say I just can't overcome it. Well you can get these little internet filters but maybe they don't always work as well. Here's a revolutionary thought. If it was necessary get rid of your stinking phone.
Do you think you could exist without it. By the way you can get phones that aren't smartphones. They actually just dial and make phone calls.
You can't go online and do all that other stuff with them. Jesus said if your eye offends you pluck it out. If your arm offends you take it off.
That was not literal obviously. He's saying whatever it takes to be free from that sin that might be dragging you down take action. And if that meant literally removing an electronic device from your life do it.
If you have old friends that are dragging you down get some new friends that take their place. Stop hanging around the godless people and start hanging around godly people. See there's the practical and there's the spiritual. Take action. Clear out the rubble. Clear it all out. And now rebuild the wall a brick at a time.
Just start right where you are. I know it's overwhelming but I want you to consider an oak tree for a moment. And consider the fact that an oak tree comes from this. It's called an acorn.
I'm holding an acorn. When planted in the ground it takes a while to break ground. But it can turn into an oak tree. But it's sort of a picture isn't it of life. Like here we are and we're planting that little seed. And we're hoping it will grow into something that will stand the test of time.
So here's the good news. Next time you see an oak tree remember it started with an acorn that held on. Look at that acorn and just be reminded of what a nut can do. You start where you are. But you need God's help. The people called out to God. Lord help us. And you need to call out to God.
Only He can help you to do what He wants you to do. Let me close with this one last thought. Remember how they were to blow the trumpet. And if the trumpet blew that meant they were all to rush to that spot because there was a breach in the wall. The Bible tells us to listen for a trumpet too. In 1 Thessalonians 4 it says the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. With a voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first and we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up together with them in the clouds and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The Lord is coming back again. Sometimes this is called the rapture. It comes from the root word harpazo which is used many times in the New Testament. It means to be moved suddenly.
To be moved quickly. I believe there is a generation that will not see death but they will be caught up in a moment in the twinkling of an eye and hurtled into God's presence. Reunited with loved ones who have died in faith and have gone before us. We could be that generation.
Say Greg get over it. How long have you been preaching this? Over 40 years?
Yes as a matter of fact I have. And you know what? I still believe it as much as I have always believed it.
And we are closer today to the coming of the Lord than we have ever been in human history. And I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to see the signs of the times all around us. The terrorism. The instability. The violence. The trouble with nations. The fear in the air.
All signs of the times. The Bible told us these things would happen. But the Bible also says Jesus speaking when you see these things begin to happen look up for your redemption is drawing near.
So let me ask you a question. If that trumpet were to blast would you go to heaven? What if this were the day Christ would come back and call us to heaven? Would you be one of the ones who would be taken into His presence? Or would you be one of the ones who would be left on this earth? Because that will happen for many.
Probably for most. But all who believe in Jesus will go to heaven. And look I know I am getting to heaven. If I get there via rapture or death one way or another I am getting there. I have God's Word on it because Christ died for me on the cross and paid the price for all of my sin. And I believed in Him.
And you can too. So we are going to close now in prayer. And I am going to extend an invitation for some of you to believe in Jesus. So you can know your sin is forgiven. So you can know that Christ is living in you.
Maybe you have tried to fix your life. You thought man I came here today to church to get some help. I figure I need a little religion. A little religion would do me some good. Friend you don't need a little religion. You need a lot of Jesus.
That is the only answer. And He will come into your life and forgive you of every sin you have ever committed and start changing you. But you must call out to Him. The people in our story had to pray and ask for God's help. And you must do the same. We are going to pray in a moment. And I am going to extend an invitation for you to ask Christ to come into your life.
Let's all bow our heads for a prayer if you would please. Father we have heard Your Word and we know one day that trumpet will sound and people will be called into Your presence. And Lord I pray for any here listening wherever they are. If they do not know You yet I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their need for You. And I pray that they will come to You now and believe. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important word of prayer. And if you would like to make that kind of change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg would like to help you do that.
And he will do so before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. And then we want to mention the new book we are making available. It's Pastor Greg's new book called Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus. It's a revealing look at the rise and fall of so many rock icons and the reasons for their self-destruction. You know Pastor Greg a lot of the ground you cover in this new book is centered around the 60s and 70s. That unique era in American history which you also address in your upcoming movie Jesus Revolution.
How does this book fit in with the larger projects you've been working on? Well I've always been a fan of music. I like movies. I like music. I like television. You know I like all of these things.
I'm interested in them. But I also want to bring Christ to people in these worlds. That's why we make movies. We've done films like A Rush of Hope which reached millions of people. We're making a new movie right now that we're actually calling Fame. And in that film I interview Alice Cooper, Daryl Strawberry, and others.
People who have had the great success in life and have found that's not the answer but Christ is the answer. So all of these projects I work on from A Rush of Hope or this upcoming feature film Jesus Revolution are bridges. Bridges to walk over and tell stories. You know it's interesting I think the time we're living in right now really parallels 1970.
The late 60s early 70s. We have turmoil in the world. We have the threat of war. We've had race riots in our street. We've had the effects of drug use.
We've had the rise of crime. All things we were experiencing in the late 60s and early 70s. It's even funny to me as I see young people today who have rediscovered vinyl and they're playing these old records we used to listen to the first time. You see kids hanging out you know in hipster coffee shops wearing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd designs on their shirt or talking about the Beatles as though they're a current band.
It's hilarious. So there is a cultural connection and I think when we make this film Jesus Revolution which is basically set in 1970 and 71 it will speak to a generation alive today. It will connect to them because we were dealing with a lot of the same issues they're dealing with right now. So I'm looking to build bridges. That's why I write books like Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus or I make movies like A Rush of Hope and Fame and Jesus Revolution and we have our events in stadiums and arenas because we want to reach people that don't know the Lord.
Jesus did not say the whole world should go to church but he did say the church should go to the whole world. I want to go to where people are and reach unexpected people in unexpected places in unexpected ways with the gospel that can change their life. Yeah yeah that's right and listen if you'd like to partner with us and help us reach further than we ever have before I hope you'll let us know. Consider how you might invest to keep these daily studies coming your way and also help us reach out with the hope of the gospel or as our mission statement puts it knowing him and making him known.
And with your generous donation right now we'd like to send you Pastor Greg's new book called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. So get in touch today. Call 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock.
That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord. Someone can enter into that kind of relationship with God right now can't they? Yeah they really can. That's the amazing thing. I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take weeks. It doesn't take days.
It doesn't even take hours. You can believe on the spot and I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for his forgiveness. A prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. So if you want Christ to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you want a second chance in life, if you want to go to heaven when you die, stop what you're doing and pray after me these words. Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as Savior and Lord, as God and friend.
Thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Amen. And listen if you have just prayed those words with Pastor Greg, the Lord has heard you and forgiven you of your sin.
The Bible says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanses from all unrighteousness. And we'd like to send you some materials to help you begin to live this new life. We call it our New Believers Growth Packet. Just ask for it and we'll send it to you free of any charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300.
We're here around the clock to take your call. That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org and click on the words Know God. I don't know if you know about this but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world. Listen to this, we even have harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God.
So join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well next time, Pastor Greg brings us more from our studies in the book of Nehemiah. He'll have encouraging counsel on focusing on our work for the Lord no matter what opposition we may face. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner. Sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
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